From Pagan to Christian: The Arts of Medieval Europe 300-800

Online course

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Explore Medieval art and history in this 12-week course. Chart the dramatic changes of this turbulent period which witnessed the rise of Christianity and the disintegration of the Western Roman Empire; from the Arch of Constantine to Hagia Sophia and Sutton Hoo.

Learn from our world-class experts wherever you are, whenever suits you: watch lectures live or view the recording later in your own time. You can experience the full breadth and depth of the V&A's collections with more than 40 hours of study over 12 weeks. Learn at your own pace: lecture recordings and study materials, lecture notes, copies of the presentations, and additional study materials are available in our secure Microsoft Teams environment for up to 12 weeks after the course ends, so you'll never miss a thing. And finally, join the conversation: share your perspective with your fellow students, and support each other in your further enquiries outside of class time.

Read more
course photo
Portrait of Course Director Sally Dormer

Course Director
Sally Dormer

Dr Sally Dormer is a specialist medieval art historian with an M.A. in Medieval Art History and Ph.D. on Medieval illuminated manuscripts from the Courtauld Institute, London University. Sally has taught for the Art Fund, the Arts Society, Art Pursuits, London Art History Society, Swan Hellenic, Gresham College.

Sally and her team of speakers are excellent and instil a love and understanding of the objects they cover Previous V&A Academy student on Sally's Pagan to Christian course.

Course overview

Delve into the early 4th-century when the Edict of Milan granted Christianity toleration in 313 and catalysed the Church to commission glorious purpose-built churches and furnishings. Explore the Byzantine Empire’s visual arts, where theology combined with influence from Antiquity and neighbouring states, to forge a distinctive aesthetic. Discover how Islam’s dramatic early 7th-century rise provoked Iconoclasm (726-843), which saw the destruction of figurative holy images in the Byzantine world, and forced artists to migrate west, effecting cultural exchange. The Western Roman Empire’s late 5th-century demise resulted in a transfer of power to initially peripatetic, illiterate, and pagan, and subsequently, settled, literate, and Christian peoples, including the Franks, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Lombards, and Anglo-Saxons. Become expert at analysing their buildings and artefacts which demonstrate recognisable regional styles, complex intellectual agendas, and considerable technical skill. By 800 change was in the air as Charlemagne, king of the Franks, sought to recreate the glories of the Roman Empire in the West.


V&A Academy Online. A learning environment you can trust.

V&A Academy Online courses are built using the latest Microsoft software. Tune in to expert lectures live, or catch up later on demand. Download handouts and presentations. Join the discussion.

Enrol now

Online course: From Pagan to Christian: The Arts of Medieval Europe 300-800

19 September 2023 - 5 December 2023


Call to book +44 (0)20 7942 2000

Need help enrolling? Talk to the admissions team:

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

Open 10.00 - 13.00, Monday to Sunday (closed 24-26 December)

Related events